Got bugs?

Getting rid of varmints can be done the easy or hard way—for the environment

As unpleasant as earwigs may be, there are ways other than ecological despoilation to get rid of them.

As unpleasant as earwigs may be, there are ways other than ecological despoilation to get rid of them.

Last week in this space, we reported on some environmentally friendly herbicides for killing weeds. There are also environmentally friendly pesticides for killing bugs. Before reaching for synthetic chemicals, consider organic alternatives to alleviate creeping and crawling foes.

Bonide Hot Pepper Wax makes bug habitats too hot to handle. “Oils of peppers make plants hot to insects and small animals,” says Moana Nursery’s Will Gardner.

There is also Dr. Earth organic insect sprays for home and garden, fruit and vegetable, or rose and flower. These sprays use garlic oil to fool pests, making plants taste and smell bad.

“Organic products are really not more expensive than chemicals,” Gardner says. A quick price comparison along the aisles confirms his testimony. But, do they work? Gardner says that “customers report really good results and want to go a more organic route.”

Non-toxic and pet safe insecticidal soaps work great on vegetables. This biodegradable product works on aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. But don’t use them in full sun or high temperatures.

Use horticultural oil (refined petroleum,) with insecticidal soaps for even better results. It coats plant leaves and suffocates soft-bodied insects.

One of the least expensive and safest remedies for earwigs is wetting a rolled-up newspaper and placing it near the earwigs-infested area in the evening. During the night, earwigs move in. In the morning, shake the earwigs out and dispose of them—or just throw the whole paper in the garbage.

For hard-to-kill or serious insect problems, dried chrysanthemum flowers work well. Dust on plants to kill most soft bodied insects, and even helps with worms on apples. It’s a quick killer and degrades rapidly. This product is toxic to honey bees. Some users report skin and eye irritation.

One bug killer’s getting rave reviews. The oil of the neem plant works on insects’ hormonal systems to prevent development. Neem also kills powdery mildew, black spots on roses and mites. “Neem not only kills insects, but helps kill the eggs,” Gardner says.

For 3,000 years, neem oil has been used in toothpaste, soaps and shampoos. That’s quite a safety record. Purchase pure neem oil and mix one ounce with a gallon of water to spray in home or garden. Users report efficient, lasting results and a smell “like onion soup.” When searching for neem products, check the label for azadirachtin, the active ingredient for pest use.

Pointe Pest Control offers organic spraying for the interior and exterior of homes. Residents report happy pets, pleasant aromas and effective pest control. Pointe has been introducing its green line to the community through a door knocking campaign. Folks can also call 1-800-POINTE-4.

Another bug repellant that purports to be organic and claims to keep 80 pests from nibbling on the body or garden can be found at This product does not appear to be certified as organic.

Parents prefer non-manufactured chemical alternatives to protect their children from insects like mosquitoes, and costs for less-manufactured varieties are comparable to synthetic chemicals. If you’ve got bugs, there are many organic, safe and eco-friendly remedies to send them on their way.